Hoerr Schaudt Landscape Architects
Uptown Normal Circle; Normal, Illinois
Client: Town of Normal
Architect: Farr Associates
Engineer: Clark Dietz Engineers
Category: Unrealized Project
Part of the Uptown Renewal Project in Normal, Illinois, a multi-phase redevelopment focused on revitalizing the Town of Normal, the Circle at Uptown Normal is the heart of a project with an unusually progressive sensitivity to environmental impact. The Circle incorporates the most significant sustainable components of the entire plan by utilizing creative stormwater treatments for aesthetic, educational and irrigation purposes.
A roundabout intersection that will connect five streets while slowing traffic, the Circle will act as a gateway to those entering Normal from a future multi-modal transportation station directly to the south. At the center of the Circle is a central park that will provide a shady green gathering space with seating, a water feature and open plaza. A "living plaza," the Circle uses water and the motion of people and vehicles.
In addition to aesthetics, the Circle's extensive stormwater system captures rainwater in Uptown and treats it through natural processes by pumping rainwater from a cistern beneath the streetscape into a series of filtration bogs where it will be cleansed as it flows slowly through the plant material around the circle. When the cleansed water reaches the last of the filtration bogs, it will flow through an outlet ledger and over a concrete channel and then to a scupper wall to the Circle's water feature, which mirrors the flow of traffic and provides an audible buffer. During times of drought, the water feature will go dry to make users more aware of their immediate environment. Due to the location of the park within the traffic circle, the landscape architect worked with the Illinois Department of Transportation Highway Division to convey the importance of integrating vehicular needs with those of pedestrians and other forms of transit.
The landscape architect uses sustainable practices related to stormwater and street tree health for the surrounding eight blocks of streetscape. Streets intersecting with the Circle are graded to move water toward the Circle and feature planters with native plants to act as natural rain gardens.